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Alberta's Aviation Heritage
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After the Wars

With the massive changes and developments that came with the war effort, there was a great deal of optimism about the future of aviation in Canada. As early as 1943, Trans Canada Air Lines (TCA) was offering transcontinental travel and international flights. At the same time, Canadian Pacific was making plans to expand its services with the end of the war. There were very optimistic discussions about the expansion and growth of civil aviation after the war, with predictions of the expansion of private flying, and the extensive use of air travel by civilian travellers.

The end of the Second World War saw the majority of air travel taken over by national airlines with numerous small carriers serving local needs.

Airports needed runways and taxiways that could support the heavy aircraft used by TCA. The Calgary airport did not have runways that were acceptable, but city council did not plan on upgrading them unless it was absolutely necessary. By 1947, the Department of Transport finally upgraded one runway, allowing TCA to land.

Other centres, like Lethbridge, had service by TCA because they had the facilities needed, but this was short lived after runways were improved in Calgary, and air traffic was diverted to that city. Communities like Medicine Hat, Red Deer, and Lethbridge lost their service from TCA as the larger aircraft no longer needed the frequent stops of the earlier era. The new, larger and more powerful aircraft used by airlines like TCA no longer had to fly along the Crowsnest Pass since they could fly over the top of the mountains.

Calgaryís airport had seen improvements in lighting, facilities and expansion of the offices of TCA. In 1949, the City of Calgary took back control of the airport from the Department of Transport.

Medicine Hat complained to the provincial government in 1950 that the loss of their air service was dangerous, and they should have access to the air ambulance in cases of medical emergencies. This contention was dismissed since there was a wide availability of private airplanes, and in all cases of emergencies, local private aircraft had been used.

Small regional companies in areas like Grande Prairie and Peace River tried to gain a foothold, but found it very difficult and did not continue. There were a number of factors for this, one being that private resource companies operating in the north bought their own aircraft and hired their own pilots. The second aspect that had an impact on these small companies was the proliferation of privately owned aircraft across Alberta. Many enthusiasts attained their private aircraft licenses and purchased a Tiger Moth, a common training aircraft used during the BCATP, that was sold as surplus after the war.

A commemorative plate with the following inscription on the back: Plate No. 6796A in the limited edition of "We See Thee Rise" by David Craig. Read More...


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Alberta's Aviation Heritage

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